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When the judges told eliminee Heather Cox that her song choices were too safe, she took a risk and chose to emulate one of her favorite singers. Unfortunately for Heather, she couldnít outshine a pop icon, especially when said icon is managed by one of the people sitting in judgment on her performance. America agreed, and didnít advance her to the next round. In this interview, Heather talks to reporters about the American Idol experience, what it was like to take a risk, and what she did or did not eat for lunch.
Q: Heather, Iím honored to talk to a fellow American Idol addict. Is it true that you are the first person to have sung a Mariah Carey song on American Idol?
A: No, [I was the first to sing] the song ďHeroĒ on American Idol. Iím not sure about any other song. But actually, I was told that different people have sung the song on the show, but theyíve never sung it ďon the show,Ē like different Ė like cattle-call people.
Q: Why Mariah Carey? What made you decide on this rather difficult Ė
A: Well, thatís the whole point; it was a rather difficult song choice. The week before they said I was really safe and it was boring, so I was like, well, Iím going to take a risk; and I donít guess it paid off too well. Iím talking to you today.
Q: Youíre welcome. I just wanted to ask you about when youíre standing there in front of the judges, and Simon and Paula are joking about salad and pizza and fortune cookies, what was going through your head?
A: I was like, what? Am I hearing them correctly? Iím standing here and my career is on the line, life is on the line, whatever, and then theyíre talking about salad and pizza? I was like, huh?
Q: Did it kind of take you out of the moment?
A: It was just confusing. I mean, thatís the best word to sum it up. I was just like, youíve got to be kidding me.
Q: Did you find out what they were talking about later?
A: No. I still donít know. I donít know if I never will know. Do you know? Can you help me?
Q: I have no idea. Thatís why Iím asking you.
A: Okay. I donít know.
Q: So you sang Mariah, youíre obviously a fan. When can we expect the emancipation of Heather?
A: Iím not too sure about that one. Something is going to happen. I just believe that this door is going to open up other doors and Iím going to go through them, so Iím excited about whatís to come.
Q: Now, I know the judges were always sort of talking about how cute Kevin and Ace and some of those guys were. Iím wondering, from your perspective, who were some of the guys that the girls were talking about and gushing over the most?
A: Not a single one of them. No, we just kind of keep things platonic, and thatís about it. Weíre all friends, so Ė at least I wasnít; I donít know about anybody else.
Q: But I mean, come on, tell me Ė Kevin is pretty Ė look at how Ė didnít you really want to just squeeze those cheeks?
A: Oh, heís just Chicken Little. Everybody loves him.
Q: Can you describe what you were feeling as you sat and then stood waiting for the results? Because you appeared to be the most upset of the four last night?
A: Did I look the most upset?
Q: Of the four. Just a little bit.
A: Okay. Well, I kind of had a premonition earlier on in the day; I thought, yes, I could be in the bottom three. I didnít think that I was going to go home, though, so it was shocking. But that one comment just kind of threw me off, but you know what? Itís okay. I sang the song, and I think I ended on a good note, so hopefully America will remember the graciousness that I had.
Q: It was kind of you to sing to the other finalists last night. When did you plan that?
A: It was just a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing, because I really didnít think Iíd be singing last night, so it was just like, a hero lies in each one of them. And so I just felt the need to turn around and encourage them. They were crying pretty hard, so I had to say something to them; you know, ďItíll be okay.Ē
Q: So did you have pizza or salad?
A: I donít even know what that came from. I have no idea. I donít know if they were talking about my size. I have no idea.
Q: But did you seriously have pizza or salad for lunch?
A: No. No, I had none of that.
Q: Did you actually see Simon whisper in Paulaís ear? Because I noticed Paula was saying that, oh, heís whispering stuff to me. Did you see that happen?
A: No Ė well, itís kind of like theyíre in their own world. Iím really focused in that moment like, oh, my gosh, Iím either staying or Iím gone. So it really didnít matter to me what they were doing at that moment, to be honest.
Q: And today do you think itís funny, or is it annoying?
A: No, I donít think it was funny. I donít. I donít know where it came from; Iím just kind of confused about it. If one day somebody could clarify that, that would be neat.
Q: What I wanted to ask you is if you thought your lack of screen time before the top 24 aired, do you think that hindered you at all, because you didnít have like a little segment that was done on you?
A: I remember last year, because Iím a stalker of the show, Simonís saying it doesnít matter how much airtime you get. When you get on here and you flow, then thatís how you get your name out there. But some of the other contestants had a lot of airtime, so thatís okay; itís just how it worked out. Iím fine; Iím at peace with it. And other doors will open up for me.
Q: Did any of you feel like any of the contestants Ė did you feel it created an unfair playing field, so that maybe some of the other ones already had a fan base before the voting started?
A: I guess people would say it did, but Iím not even worried about that. The people that are there now deserve to be there, and I was just glad that I made it to No. 19. So itís okay with me.
Q: Whatís in store for you now? What are your plans from this moment on, since youíve just Ė
A: Yes, been booted off, gotten the stiletto heel. Just kind of waiting, taking some time off just to relax, and seeing what doors open up. I know different people will be in touch with me, and Iím just trying to really continue with my career as a singer; thatís my passion. But I would love to do modeling, Pantene Pro-V commercials Ė anything in the entertainment industry would be awesome. I would love to host Inside American Idol or something like that. Thatíd be cool.
Q: I read that you have an accounting degree, so I figure youíre pretty good with numbers. So at any time did you ever like maybe think of demanding a recount, because maybe those numbers donít really add up, or do you trust them?
A: Iím like, whatever; I just canít even deal with that. Iím just like, itís okay, this isnít a presidential election. Iím pretty sure these people know what theyíre doing, so itís out of my hands, and whatever the Lord wills for me, many other things are going to open up for me, so Iím very excited, looking towards the future.
Q: I know you just mentioned you have a lot of things that youíd like to try, but would you ever go back to accounting?
A: The accounting will play the part when I have my millions, and then Iíll know what to do with it, what to invest in, etc. I really donít think Iím going to be an accountant as a desk job. Not since Iíve had the taste of Hollywood.
Q: I was just wondering, we keep hearing Ö take a risk. You go out and do something risky like a Mariah Carey song, and they kind of pick on you for doing it. How frustrating is that? How do you make those choices?
A: Well, I donít really know, to be honest with you, to answer truthfully. I just Ė the first week they said it was safe, so I really didnít want to be safe; so what bigger risk than Mariah Carey. Obviously it didnít pan out very well. So, yes, thatís just kind of confusing. Itís like, okay, well, what is a good risk? Itís difficult to gauge. But itís okay, everything worked out, and it will be fine. Everything happens for a reason, and Iím off the show now, but other things are going to open up, so Iím just excited and anticipating my future.
Q: Heather, I know that you guys lived in such tight quarters and you guys became such good friends. Is there anyone youíre really going to miss on the show?
A: I became really close with Brenna Gethers, can you believe that? So if somebody was to have to get the stiletto, we like to call it, instead of the boot, I would have rather it had been her. We were close, did a lot of interviews together, and I really love her. Looking at her, you would never have imagined Brenna and I to become such good friends, but we did; and everybody there is just fantastic, and Iím really excited for them. So theyíll all go great.
Q: Do you have any picks for who might end up in the top?
A: I donít, because the talent is just so amazing this year. Itís been dubbed as the best season ever. Everybody is just awesome, and very unique and different, so I believe that the person grows the most Ė they call it the Vonzell factor Ė will be the one to walk away with the title.
Q: About the makeover the show did for you - the change in the hair, the more makeup, the glamming up. How did you feel about that? How much say did you have in the change in your look, and are you going to stick with that or go back to the way you were before?
A: My goodness, was it that big of a change? No, actually we had to do all of our makeup, all of our wardrobe, and I just Ė when youíre on camera, you have to have more makeup so you donít look like a ghost up there. And because of the song I was singing, I chose to glam it up that week, and I guess Ė Simon was like, ďItís like a ghastly beauty pageant.Ē I guess itís because I wore big diamond earrings. I donít really know. But itís just whatever mood Iím in. I can wear sweatpants and a T-shirt and be just as happy, with no makeup on. Whatever works for the day.
Q: You did change the hair, too; you seemed to have a little different style with the hair. Was that part of your dream of doing those Pantene commercials, or is that something else going on there?
A: That is just me trying to experiment and have a good time, because it just kind of gets boring. So last night I crimped it, or curly Ė just so people can really see, well, she can do lots of different things with her hair. Yes, so Pantene will give me a call. They can do whatever they want with my hair, except cut it.
Q: Just since youíre such a voice of authority for American Idol and an expert, what do you think has been the best performance ever on American Idol?
A: The best performance ever. You know what? I think last season Ė well, of course you always have your Fantasias, Letís Give Them Something to Talk About. But last season when Anwar Robinson sang What a Wonderful World Ė I believe thatís what he sang Ė he, I mean, knocked it out. It was phenomenal. So, yes, Iíd have to say Anwar Robinsonís What a Wonderful World.
Many thanks to FOX for the interview, and good luck to you, Heather.